by Sara Pena
A smile breaks the airy white void of the gallery. There is a sense of irony in Richie Culver´s paintings. It is a big open diary in form of canvases and daily-life objects. The absurdity of the notes attached playfully merges a collection of the deities of the working class. Culver creates banners of the shared belief system and his set of themes means reference to social issues, policy failings and media. The viewers are given a starting point to join an Exquisite Corpse Game, where the big space between drawings and text offers an erased bond that everyone can fill with their own content.
The motif of masculinity operates in an innocent state of honesty. There is a subtle reflection on gender stereotypes. Pink and blue as the symbol of division. Male tough characters, dark colours, cars, aggressive typographic, football teams or violent animals. Richie Culver perfectly crams what is going on into small pills of information. Rather than unfolding a committed critical essay of matters he is just being himself. He is providing a depiction of what he saw, felt or was taught throughout his life. Culver’s oeuvre presents a sort of documentary about the English identity and its current political landscape. The ignored daily concerns of the people and the domination of the Brexit are told here as a joke, because as he says about The Jeremy Kyle Show, like if he was talking about himself: “It is for entertainment purposes only, and you’d be foolish to think that the participants aren’t in on the joke as well”.
Richie Culver. Withernsea, (Yorkshire, England), 1979. Lives and works in London. He has recently exhibited at Saatchi Gallery, London; Kristin Hjellegjerde Gallery, London; Humber Street Gallery, Kingston Upon Hull; Zweisieben, Karlsruhe; Nuart Gallery, Stavanger and Lehmann + Silva, Porto.
- Could you tell us a little about yourself? How did your work in art begin?
I have always made art in one way or another. I used to work in a caravan factory so I guess my ideas started there. Physical objects etc. My paintings came much later once I gained confidence.
- When you start a new painting, do you set out with a particular idea of what it might look like? Or does it form as you go?It always varies. They tend to take many forms before the final painting is done. Some take very little time. Some take months.
- How would you define your aesthetic?Minimal abstraction I guess would be the way I like to word it. My paintings can sometimes be far from minimal. But my over all practice or the way I exhibit would be that.
- We would like to know what do you think about your paintings and installations, what meanings, messages you put.It can vary. Usually there is comedy elements in my presentation. The work itself can have much more serious tones.
- Your oeuvre is full of recognizable references. However, the text has sometimes a more intriguing origin. Where do the written notes come from?Text is a huge part of my practice. I dont really question it anymore. It’s just there. It needs to be there.
- In your work you explore the South and North division of England, also the impact of Brexit. What are you thinking about both situations?Being an English artist. Based in London. From the North. It’s a difficult subject to avoid.
- Do you prefer sculpture or painting more?
- We would like to know more about your style and technique, what materials do you feel more comfortable with?I love working with steel and cement. Materials I used to work with on the caravan site.
- Your sculptural work is eye-catching for the way you use different daily-life objects. How do you choose the objects that you work with?I use things that have effected me or things I was into growing up.
Then I use them In conflicting ways I guess. It’s all about balance. Or lack of balance. Aesthetics that don’t work. Or shouldn’t work perhaps.
- Who are some of your favourite artists? Are there any specific artists you have constantly in mind?I have quite a few. David Ostrowski & Justin Matherly. Here’s two. I don’t really ever have any in mind though as I’m working.
- You launched a Topshop collaboration few years ago. How would you describe the presence of fashion in your life?Haha. I regret that collaboration. I was young and really broke. Fashion has played a massive part in my life. And naturally that aesthetic bleeds Into my work.
- Do you have one piece of your own that’s your favourite?Possibly my sneaker sculptures or the Michael Jackson Ouija Board.
- Finally, Do you have in mind any future idea or project?I have some art fairs coming up and some group shows etc. 2018 was super busy. So I’m happy for 2019 to be more quiet.